5 Realistic Possibilities for Detroit Red Wings' First-Round NHL Draft Pick
Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. After all, the Red Wings have only had five first-round selections since the turn of the millennium.
Red Wings fans have had to look to the third round or later in most cases to find players who have achieved stardom with the team.
But that doesn't mean that fans can't get excited for the highest selection the Red Wings have had in that time at No. 18 overall.
Here are some facts that fans need to know about five players who could be available to the Red Wings at that No. 18 spot.
5. Anthony Mantha, Right Wing, Val D'Or, QMJHL
It has been a long time since the Red Wings have had a 40-goal scorer. Marian Hossa last did it in 2008-09 and Henrik Zetterberg the year before.
That's mostly due to the fact that the Red Wings have turned into a pass-first kind of offense, trying to move the puck around the offensive zone to get a perfect look.
That's not what Anthony Mantha brings to the table.
Mantha is a power forward who put up 50 goals this year, leading the QMJHL. He can get to the net and is always a threat to score whenever he steps on the ice.
If Detroit could draft Mantha, not only would they be getting a goal scorer, but they would be getting a huge body to add to their prospect pool. Mantha is 6'4" and 190 pounds with room to put on weight if necessary.
Per HockeysFuture.com, the Red Wings "lack of sizable forwards" is a weakness in their prospect pool.
The Red Wings need to add some weight up front, as they have just five forwards per NHL.com that are over 200 pounds and two of those forwards (Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson) could be retired before Mantha ever steps foot on an NHL rink.
This size might be the most important part here, as not only can Mantha put the puck in the net, but the Red Wings desperately need size.
If the Red Wings can grab Mantha, it would be a huge addition on the scoring front, as he knows how to get to the net and can light up the score sheet (Mantha had five hat tricks this season) when he's feeling it.
4. Zach Nastasiuk, Right Wing, Owen Sound, OHL
Zach Nastasiuk finished 13th in NHL Central Scouting's rankings after being No. 33 at the midterm rankings.
If there's one thing that catches the eye about Nastasiuk, it's that he knows how to get to the net with the puck. When he gets to the net, fantastic things happen as can be seen in the highlight tape above.
The second thing about Nastasiuk is that he is always the hardest-working player on the ice. His drive and determination to make things happen when it seems like nothing is there is second to none.
Nastasiuk isn't the most offensively gifted player in the world with 20 goals and 40 points in 62 games for the Owen Sound Attack last year, but he did more than double his point total from the previous year in the 2012-13 season.
With more experience and seasoning in the next couple of years, Nastasiuk could develop into a solid second- or third-line right wing at the NHL level.
The Red Wings have a lot of hard workers on their third and fourth lines, but Nastasiuk would likely have the offensive talent in a couple of years to put himself at the top of that group if he keeps his work ethic up.
3. Victor Crus Rydberg, Center, Linkoping Swedish Junior League
Victor Crus-Rydberg burst onto the North American scene at the NHL combine with some impressive results, per NHL.com.
Rydberg came in second in the push strength test (307 pounds) and first in the pull strength test (344 pounds) at the NHL combine.
To put these numbers in perspective, Rydberg is 6'0" and weighs just 187 pounds. He can pull almost twice his weight, and push more than 160 percent of his weight.
Rydberg also put up 35 points in 35 games on the Linkoping under-20 squad in the Swedish leagues, meaning he can put up points as well.
As the No. 14 European skater, per the NHL.com's final scouting rankings, the 18-year-old Swede would be well received on a team full of Swedish players with a long Swedish heritage in the Detroit Red Wings.
Joe McDonnell, Red Wings' director of amateur scouting, was quoted recently in a Mike Morreale article on NHL.com talking about the depth of the NHL Draft.
I think it's real deep draft, we just finished up our year-end meetings [on May 26] and know we're going to get a player if we're picking in the 18th spot or lower. We think we're going to get a real good player no matter where we're picking in the first round....It's a tight group from No. 3 to No. 15 … it could be anybody. It's a good year if you have a certain need; there's probably someone there for you.
If Detroit's scouting personnel believe that Rydberg might slide to their pick in the second round (assuming they want him), then they would hold off, but after that showing at the NHL combine, don't expect him to fall too far.
The Red Wings could use another center with Darren Helm's career in doubt. Where that center will come from remains to be seen.
2. Tristan Jarry, Goalie, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
Aside from the season-ending loss to the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL Final, Edmonton Oil Kings' goaltender Tristan Jarry had a statistical year to remember.
Jarry went 18-7 this season, while putting up a 1.61 GAA, a 93.6 save percentage and six shutouts in only 27 games.
He finished as the No. 3 ranked North American goalie in the final NHL.com scouting list.
The key for the Red Wings in this draft is that they don't really have depth in the goaltending position. Hockeysfuture.com calls their goaltending depth "suspect," suggesting that maybe Detroit will surprise everyone in the first round and go with a goaltender.
But would it really be a surprise if the Red Wings went that route?
Sure they have Jonas Gustavsson as a backup goalie, but Petr Mrazek is still a couple years away from competing for an NHL job and Thomas McCollum isn't really a reliable option at this point in time.
The Red Wings need to either visit the free-agent market or go to the draft to find another star goaltending prospect.
Jarry could be a bit of a long-term project as he just turned 18, but the rewards could be fantastic if he can continue to put up numbers like he did this season.
1. Robert Hagg, Defenseman, Modo Jr. Swedish Junior League
Robert Hagg isn't the most flashy defenseman in the world, but he is one of the more consistent ones.
He was ranked as the No. 8 European skater overall by the NHL.com final draft rankings.
The thing one notices up front with Hagg upon watching his highlight tape at the World Junior Championships, is that there aren't really any kind of highlights (save for a goal) in the four-minute video.
Hagg makes the simple play, the easy play and the smart play.
He is diligent with his passes for the most part, especially leaving the zone. He does turn the puck over occasionally trying to force a pass that isn't there, but Hagg knows how to get the puck out of the zone, doing it on a consistent basis, and that is crucial in today's NHL.
Hagg won't be the top-pairing, power-play quarterback defenseman, but he could be the next best thing with his bomb of a slap shot that he has from the point.
Making comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom is far too premature at this stage, but the Swedish defenseman reads the game extremely well, never losing track of his check in the defensive zone.
If he can connect on more of his passes in the neutral zone, Hagg could be a bonafide top-pairing defenseman in the future.
All statistics via NHL.com draft central unless otherwise noted.
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